Astro 131, MWF  12:00 - 12:50

Professor: Chris Taylor                                                                                           Office: 438 Sequoia Hall
 Phone: 278-6480                                                                     Office Hours: M/W 1:00 - 1:50, Tu 2:00 - 2:50
    E-mail:                                                                                              also by appointment    

Class announcements

Sept. 2
First Day of Class!!  A printable copy of the syllabus is available.
Sept. 26 Exam 1 is on Thursday, October 3.  A list of review topics is available.
Oct. 1 Here is the answer to the practice exam question.
Oct. 14 The answer key for Exam 1 is available.
Oct. 23 Exam 2 is on Tuesday, October 29.  A list of review topics is available.
Dec. 11 The answer key for Exam 2 is available.
Dec. 11 A list of review topics is available for the material covered between Exam 2 and the Final Exam.


Week of
Material Covered
Sept. 3, 5
Refresher: Gravity, Newton's Laws, Atoms, Light
Sept. 10, 12
Exploring the Solar System -- Chapter 46.
Sept. 17, 19
Origin of the Solar System -- Chapter 2
Sept. 24, 26
The Sun --  Chapter 4
Oct. 1, 3
Chapter 4 (continuted) (Exam)
Oct. 8, 9
The Inner Planets --  Chapters 6 and 8
Oct. 15, 17
The Inner Planets --  Chapters 6 and 8
Oct. 22, 24
The Inner Planets --  Chapters 10 and 12
Oct. 29, 31
The Inner Planets --  Chapters 12 and 16
Nov. 5, 7
The Outer Planets -- Chapters 20, 21 (Exam)
Nov. 12, 14
The Outer Planets -- Chapters 20, 21
Nov. 19, 21
Comets -- Chapters 30, 31
Nov. 26
Comets -- Chapters 30, 31
Dec. 3, 5
Astrobiology -- Chapter 45.
Dec. 10, 12
Extrasolar Planets -- Chapter 47.
Dec. 17, 10:15 AM
Final Exam

Course Goals:
1. To understand the composition, structure and atmospheres of the planets in our solar system.
2. To learn about the other components of our solar system, including moons,asteroids and comets.
3. To understand the Sun's influence on the solar system.
4. To understand the current theories for the formation of the solar system and its planets.
5. To learn about the history of solar system exploration in the Space Age.

    Any Astronomy 4 course and placement into a WI class on the WPJ.

Required Text:
    Encyclopedia of the Solar System, 2nd edition. Editors: McFadden, Weissman and Johnson.

Reading the text is essential. It's best if you read the section of the book we will
be covering any given day before we discuss that material in class.

Final course grades will be based upon 2 exams, a cumulative final exam, the course writing project, and class participation during in-class exercises.

Exam 1
Exam 2
Informal Class Writing
Final Exam
Course Writing Project

In-class writing will be done once a week, usually in the last 10 - 20 minutes of class, and will be turned in at the end of that
class.  The topics will vary from "what did I learn in class today?" to expressing your opinions about astronomy related public
policy issues.  Grammar and spelling are important, but more important is how clearly you express yourself and your ideas.

Letter grades will be assigned as follows:

less than 55%

Contacting Me
The best way is by e-mail, since I don't check my voice mail very often.  Coming to office hours is also good, and any time my door is open, please come in.

Attendance is not mandatory, but is highly encouraged.  If you miss an informal writing exercise, then you receive zero
points for it, which will be reflected in your course grade.

Make up Exams:
I will announce exam dates at least 2 weeks in advance of the exam.  If you have a conflicting activity that cannot be rescheduled, you must see me at least 2 days before the exam. If you don't, there will be no opportunity to make it up. You must bring me documentation of your conflicting activity (i.e. if you have jury duty that day, show me the form they sent you.  If you have a brain transplant scheduled, bring me a note from the surgeon).

Algebra is required in this course.  I plan the exams so that you cannot get an A if you get all the math problems wrong.  However, if you get every math problem wrong, but get everything else right, you can still get a B

Calculators are allowed on the exams.  PDAs, mini-computers and cell phones with math functions are not allowed.

Cell phone:
Please turn your cell phone to vibrate before class starts.  Cell phones that ring in the middle of class are disrespectful to your fellow students, and to me.  If your cell phone goes off in class and it is a call you must take, please go into the hallway to answer it.

The faculty of the Department of Physics and Astronomy do not tolerate academic dishonesty. Falsification of data,
copying, unauthorized collaborations, plagiarism,
alteration of graded materials or other actions (as described in,
but not necessarily
limited to the CSUS Policy Manual) will be promptly reported to the Office of Student
Affairs. The offending student will be penalized on the assignment in question.  Serious infractions will result in course
failure and a recommendation for administrative

Anyone caught plagiarizing material will fail this class!!
If you have any questions about plagiarism, come see me before you turn your project in! Below is an
except from the CSUS official policy on plagiarism, which may be
found in its entirety on the CSUS
web page by searching on the term “plagiarism”.

Plagiarism is the use of distinctive ideas or works belonging to another person without providing adequate
acknowledgement of that
person's contribution. Regardless of the means of appropriation, incorporating
another's work into one's own requires adequate
identification and acknowledgement. Plagiarism is doubly
because it deprives the author of rightful credit and gives credit to someone who has not earned it.
Acknowledgement is not necessary
when the material used is common knowledge. When the course is not
noted, the following would constitute plagiarism:

1. Word-for-word copying.

2. The mosaic (to intersperse a few words of one's own here and
there while, in essence, copying another's work).
3. The paraphrase (the rewriting of another's work, yet still using
the fundamental idea or theory).
4. Fabrication (inventing or counterfeiting sources).
5. Ghost-written material (submitting another's effort as one's own).

It is also plagiarism to neglect quotation marks on material that is

otherwise acknowledged. Plagiarism and acts associated with it are
cause for disciplinary and/or legal action.

Students with disabilities:
Please see me before the end of the first week of class.

Chris Taylor :  ctaylor(at)